“They want us to bankrupt ourselves, that’s the goal,” said Ret. Gen. Robert Spalding, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, of China’s plan to usurp America’s global position as the leading superpower, offering his analysis in a Friday interview on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight with host Rebecca Mansour and special guest host Rick Manning.
Prior to the Trump administration, assessed Spalding, America had not effectively realigned its global strategy towards addressing geopolitical threats from an ascendant China.
“Despite the fact that the National Security Strategy said we have entered an era of great power competition, again, we just haven’t oriented ourselves to it,” said Spalding. “In addition to the regional competition you have between Iran — which is both a Persian-Arab and a Shiite-Sunni competition — you have a global competition between the U.S. and China.”
Spalding continued, “In each of the regions … we have regional combatant commanders. In Europe you have the Russians who are causing problems for the European commander. In the Middle East you have Iran who is causing problems for the Central Command commander. In the Indo-Pacific, you have the North Koreans who are causing problems for the Pacific Command commander.”
China, stated Spalding, is the primary common denominator unifying the aformentioned regional threats to America’s global security interests.
“Each of these commanders are vying for resources in dealing with these regional challenges,” explained Spalding. “The problem is that each one of these regional problems is linked to the main problem, which is China. Now, the interesting thing we had in the competition in the Cold War is that Soviet Union wasn’t really an economic competitor. It didn’t have a strong economy. The Chinese do. They’re the number two economy in the world. So they’re using this big economy and this wide global net to support each of these challenges to the United States.”
China wages economic warfare against the U.S. by supporting — and enriching itself off of — America’s competitors in Asia and the Middle East.
“Since we’re in economic competition, part of that competition by the Chinese is to drain the coffers of the United States — so keep defense spending high — by keeping it pinned down in the Middle East, in Europe, and in Asia,” determined Spalding.
Spalding called for more responsibility-sharing and decentralization of military and security preparations with America’s allies and partners against the aforementioned potential threats.
“In order to actually break out of this, you have to step back and take an approach that relies on regional partners,” Spalding said. “So in the Middle East, that’d be the Saudis and a lot of their Arab allies, and in Asia it’d have to be the South Koreans and the Japanese.”
Spalding went on, saying, “In each of these regions, the partners there have to step up, and then we have to basically save our strength. We have to reinvest in the country. We have to grow our economy. We haven’t invested in infrastructure, STEM education or research and development in 30 years. All those things are being taken away by these endless wars that we’re fighting.”
Spalding drew on Dwight Eisenhower’s 1961 warning of a growing “military industrial complex” driving American policies towards its own ends.
“What we have to do is basically take a page out of Eisenhower’s book, where he said, ‘Beware the military industrial complex; the undue influence of them,’” advised Spalding. “And then focus on deterrence. Don’t spend all your money on weapons and focus on growing your economy. So things that Eisenhower did like the national highway system. In the space race we educated all our scientists on federal grants and our R&D budget in the 60s was 2 percent. All those things lead to enormous economic growth, and we haven’t spent on any of those things in the last 30 years.”
Military capacity cannot be separated from economic capacity, noted Spalding.
“The challenge is that we have this enormous budget expenditure on defense, and we’re not actually building — or rebuilding, in the case of infrastructure — the things that actually grow the economy,” declared Spalding.
Spalding recalled his time as a national security adviser in the Trump administration.
“When I got to the White House, one of the biggest contentions I heard was, ‘Economic security and national security have no relation whatsoever,’ and what I tried to impart on my colleagues was, ‘If you don’t have a strong economy, it doesn’t matter, because you’re not going to be able to pay for the things you need to secure yourself,’” shared Spalding.
Spalding added, “Now we’ve got an even bigger challenge because not only have we not invested in the things that actually grow the economy, like infrastructure, STEM education, and research and development, we’ve actually divested of most of our industrial base.”
China’s control of international logistics — particularly global shipping infrastructure — threatens American national security, explained Spalding.
“Today, when you talk about the defense industrial base in the United States, when China entered the WTO, we closed 78,000 factories,” recalled Spalding. “We put 5.4 million people out of work. We closed ship-building facilities. We closed so much of our manufacturing capability that today we’re heavily reliant on the Chinese to provide the things we need to fight.”
Spalding continued, “Not only that, [the Chinese] have managed to — in buying all these global ports and buying most of the global shipping — control all the logistics. So think about that $800 billion [defense] budget we spend, and then all the money we’re spending to move and ship personnel and supplies all over the world, and you realize that the Chinese are making enormous sums out of what we do on a day-to-day basis. This is what they’ve built.”
Spalding explained China’s procurement of influence via financial relationship with America’s academia, businesses, entertainment and news media companies, non-profits and think tanks, and politicians.
“What the Chinese have done — they’ve studied us, they’ve studied the competition we had with the Soviet Union — they realized that if we ever became focused on their activities, then that would be tough for them because they relied on our openness in order to go after us,” stated Spalding. “So they were essentially slowly eroding our personal freedoms through their economic and financial interaction with the country.”
Spalding said, “Most of the country’s elites have essentially aligned themselves — corporate interests, academia, politics, law firms, think tanks — with the Chinese Communist Party because of financial interests, and the Chinese knew that if they could continue to pursue that — and if we stayed distracted in the Middle East or in Europe or in Asia with North Korea — that they could continue to slowly erode our competitive edge.”
“In essence, they want us to spend as much money as we can on defense, because that is not their area where they want to compete with us,” assessed Spalding. “They want us to bankrupt ourselves. That’s the goal.”
President Donald Trump, said Spalding, had reversed the status quo of America’s approach towards China set by his presidential predecessors.
“Until 2017, when the president basically said, ‘Enough is enough,’ that’s what we were doing,” Spalding remarked. “The only challenge I think that we have going forward is that we have to realize that the defense budget is actually taking away from other things that we need to invest in that would make us more competitive in a long-term economic competition with China that we find ourselves in.”
“They use the profits they make off [their dealings with America] to help the Iranians, to help the North Koreans, to help the Russians, both in a technological sense [and] economic sense,” concluded Spalding of China’s geopolitical strategy, describing Trump’s “decoupling” of America from dependence on Chinese exports and logistic as a means to reinforce America’s global positioning. “Essentially, they’re aiding and abetting these countries that we’re trying to put sanctions on, while at the same time turning around and helping them. Whether or not they’re directly involved in the Iranians placing mines on tankers in the Persian Gulf, they’re complicit in that they’re enabling the Iranians to have the resources that enable them to do these things.”
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